California’s K-12 Online Content Project
California is now offering, at no cost to local schools, districts or students, three online databases for use by every K-12 school and student in the state, with access starting at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.
Online content from Encyclopedia Britannica, ProQuest and TeachingBooks.net will be available individually to all K-12 students in California, as well as all public schools in the state.
These content resources, commonly referred to as "library databases," provide teachers, school librarians and students with a massive amount of digital information: books, scientific research, newspaper articles, photos, videos and more – all aligned with the curriculum that California has created for its schools.
Online content resources – also known a “online library databases” – have been available for decades. Research institutions such as universities were the first to broadly use the digital-database format, with public and school libraries following suit in more recent years.
In June 2017, $3 million was provided by the State of California for online library databases for California’s K-12 students. The project was greenlighted by the late Nancy McFadden, Gov. Brown’s executive secretary who recognized the need to digitally connect students with content aligning with the state’s curriculum. Creating a statewide suite of online content would ensure greater access to all students, she believed.
Partnering with the Riverside County Office of Education, the State Library published a Request for Proposals for this project. Three providers – ProQuest, Encyclopedia Britannica, and TeachingBooks.net – were selected by a team of experts and announced in April 2018 by the State Library.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson sent a letter to all public school district superintendents and charter schools supporting the effort.
The project is funded through public education dollars.
All public school districts and charter schools may incorporate access to these three online content providers into their learning platforms. Any K-12 student in California may request access directly from the providers if access isn’t offered through their school.
Funding is available for this project annually. The State Library and the Riverside Office of Education will review and potentially revise the program to better meet the needs of teachers, school librarians and students.
Many students (and adults!) assume that resources found on the internet through a search-engine are fine for classwork. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they aren’t. Below are some of the benefits of online content, as published by St. Luke’s school*:
"What is a library database? A library database is an indexed collection of magazine, journal, newspaper articles, abstracts, and other information, which has been checked for accuracy and reliability by publishers and then licensed for distribution in online/electronic format. Many of the sources included in the database come from known print sources that publishers sell to the databases….
“Many students ask, ‘What is the main difference between using library databases and search engines?’ The answer is that databases are not the Internet…. A database is defined as an organized collection of information. Database contents can be easily accessed, updated, and managed. Databases can be found in different formats and can be accessed via the Internet using browsers. Library databases include thousands of magazine articles, newspapers, and scholarly journals….
“Library databases index edited, published, often scholarly material that is collected for an educational use. This material is often subscribed to by schools because it is judged to be a useful supplement to the curricula. Library databases are more focused on scholarly books and articles, and provide more of them, than the open web.
“Anyone can publish anything on the Internet so one must be willing to sort through and evaluate an Internet site’s content. Databases are more credible because publishers have checked the contents for accuracy and reliability.”
California has Model School Library Standards for K-12 education, and the use of vetted library databases is a key component. Student-led exploration and information literacy are key components of state educational standards
“One important goal of Common Core is to promote student-led inquiry, that is, students exploring on their own,” State Librarian Greg Lucas told educational news resource K-12 Daily in April 2018. “And schools need high quality sources for that. You can’t just have the wide-open web, where anyone can just publish anything they want.
The online content resources provided by the state can support learning in a number of subjects: language arts, science and other STEM subjects, history/social studies, even visual and performing arts and career-technical education. And the resources can be used by parents assisting younger students with homework.
* Kudos and thanks to the instructional staff at the Godfrey Library at St. Luke's School in New Canaan, CT. Quote came from http://blogs.stlukesct.org/slslibrary/why-use-databases/ in 2018.
The team of online content providers is working together to provide access for the more than 1,100 school districts and 1,200 charter schools in California. For public school districts and charter schools, please provide the necessary technical information and insure your students and staff can access these materials when the school year for 2018-19.
To accomplish that just have your district or school tech director fill out this form.
The providers need the information on the form to most efficiently connect you to these suites of get online resources. (The form is hosted by TeachingBooks.net, but is used by all three providers – ProQuest, Encyclopedia Britannica, and TeachingBooks.net.)
Not sure if your district is signed up?
Check the list of school districts that have not completed the technical form for access.
The three online content providers have multiple resources available. As a collection, these resources can be used for students as young as kindergarten and as advanced as college-level high-school seniors.
Please note: Some of the links below may take browsers to general informational pages and not to the resources provided. K-12 school districts and charter schools need to provide more technical information for streamlined access. The simple form to complete is here (embedded link) in “How School Districts and Charter Schools can Get Access.”
If you are a California K-12 student who can’t get access through your school or district, please reach out to each of the content provider’s technical support contacts.
This unique resource features a suite of instructional resources that enrich the fiction and nonfiction books read by children and young adults. Databases include:
- Book Guides & Lesson Plans
- Diverse Books
- Literature-based Vocabulary Lists
- Meet-the-Author Videos and Book Readings
- Resources for Award-Winning Books
Live phone support is available Monday-Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST at (800) 596-0710. Technical and customer support can be provided by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Customer support can be requested through the online form.
Encyclopedia Britannica is the publisher known for the classic reference compendium of summary informational articles on a wide range of subjects. A school-age version of the encyclopedia launched in the 1940s. Online school versions began in 2004. The online offerings are crafted by research experts and updated continuously – more than 1,000 new articles per month. There are two main Britannica products offered to K-12 students.
This online library database from Britannica is aimed at the digital classroom. The entries are in English and specially designed at different reading levels, allowing students to move easily to material of higher or lower comprehension levels as needed for K-6, middle school and high school: Levels 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Britannica School offers an automated translation tool for over 50 languages, as well as quick dictionary definitions and audio pronunciation – helpful for English language learners.
Britannica Escolar provides similar content as Britannica School for K-6 and middle school in Spanish. Escolar articles are original works, not translations.
Technical and customer support for Encyclopedia Britannica is available from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm PST Monday-Friday by calling 1-800-621-3900 or by emailing email@example.com.
ProQuest (for California K-12)
ProQuest is an informational resource company with lots of informational assets and partnerships. It’s used by researchers and librarians around the world. Through its partnerships, ProQuest has built a growing content collection that now encompasses 90,000 authoritative sources, 6 billion digital pages and spans six centuries. California K-12 students and educators have access to various ProQuest collections through this project. They include:
CultureGrams has concise cultural information on countries around the world. The resource provides country reports that include basic information as well as perspectives on daily life and culture, including background, customs and lifestyles of the world’s people.
This database of millions of articles from more than 10,000 full-text scholarly journals provides information in science, technology, education, social sciences, humanities and news.
eLibrary consists of general reference aggregation of periodical and digital media content with editorial guidance for novice researchers to help them choose research topics and find authoritative information to support research claims.
SIRS Discoverer consists of selected content for beginning researchers, especially elementary and middle school students and educators, and it’s helpful for elementary and middle school educators and students for reliable age-appropriate content for classwork, homework and research assignments.
Examining over 360 complex issues , SIRS Issues Researcher is a curriculum-aligned database of content geared to middle and high school students and educators, with a focus on current and relevant analysis of today’s most important controversial issues.
Information literacy is a key component of the education process today. Research Companion tools and tutorials help guide students through the research process, helping develop critical thinking in information literacy skills.
School & Educators Complete (aka eBooks by ProQuest)
The eBook subscription database of over 12,000 titles allows school libraries to grow by expanding their catalog of electronic books. Access to full-text electronic books supports learning in multiple subject areas – from science to social studies – as well as aligning with the Common Core standards.
ProQuest has provided a one-page summary of the offerings for K-12 students and public schools.
Technical support is provided by ProQuest by calling 800-899-3358 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Customer support is provided from 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. PST at 800-521-72971 or by emailing email@example.com.
The three K-12 online content providers for California – ProQuest, Encyclopedia Britannica, and TeachingBooks.net – offer regular webinars and in-person training opportunities throughout the state. There’s often other learning opportunities as well on information literacy, media literacy, ways libraries support K-12 learning and strategies for increasing parental involvement. See the following calendar of upcoming sessions.
Can’t make a session? No worries. Check out “Informational websites, articles and other resources” in this section to see an archive of information, including recordings of past webinars.
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“State library offers licensed content free to schools,” by Tom Chorneau, K-12 Daily, April 10, 2018.
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There are other online resources that can be used by students and educators in much the same way as the library databases provided through the K-12 Online Content Project. The listings below are just some of the open-access resources available.
And don’t forget to get a public library card!
Most California public libraries offer their patrons library databases and librarians are happy to help with guidance. Visit your public library today and get a card. Or sign up online.
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